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Three good things: transformative educational projects

Projects to support young people with visual impairments, tackle food insecurity and help address climate anxiety were this week declared winners of a £1m prize fund

Projects to support young people with visual impairments, tackle food insecurity and help address climate anxiety were this week declared winners of a £1m prize fund

Educational projects focused on food insecurity, special educational needs and climate anxiety have been selected as winners of the first Big Education Challenge. The winners will receive a share of £1m from education charity Big Change to pilot their projects this year and next. The prize fund is designed to boost “bold ideas that have the potential to transform education and learning”.

“Discovering these brilliant ideas and people should give us all hope,” said Essie North, CEO of Big Change. “Change in education is hard, and it takes brave and passionate people working together to make it happen. We are incredibly proud to support their journey, to show that change is possible, and I can’t wait to see the impact they will have on this and future generations.”

Three runners-up will also receive a share of £170,000, and smaller sums were awarded to another three projects to continue to test their ideas.  We take a closer look at the overall winners.

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1. A taste of success – CanTeam

CanTeam led by Jonathan Harper (pictured), works to transform school canteens into “vibrant community hubs” by helping schools offer nutritious and tasty food after school. The organisation will receive £225k to scale up.

Menus are co-designed and delivered with young people and their families. CanTeam is designed to be a sustainable solution to food insecurity, encouraging healthy eating and allowing young people to learn and thrive via satisfied stomachs.

“Too many young people and families are not accessing affordable and nutritious food, and with the support of Big Change we can pilot at scale,” said Harper, after the prize was announced this week. 

“As a father of three, I am witness to the daily struggles families face. By serving food after school, creating a sustainable solution to food insecurity, encouraging healthy eating and enabling young people to learn and thrive, we can revolutionise the way our young people eat and create more sustainable and equitable communities.”

educational projects big change
2. Shaping the future’s green leaders – Force of Nature

“Young people have inherited the climate crisis, yet we’re being locked out of decisions governing our future,” said Clover Hogan (pictured), 24, who leads Force of Nature, which also won £225k. The organisation works to address students’ climate anxiety, by helping them to prepare for roles in a green economy, developing their skills and “helping them find the climate solutions they wish to lead”.

Hogan and her team are piloting training to help hundreds of young people develop skills in public speaking, advising decision-makers and supporting peers and teachers within schools. 

educational projects big change
3. Seeing an opportunity – Paige Connect

Braille has helped millions of blind and partially sighted people to read, but the traditional form is written manually by embossing a braille writer. The writing cannot be stored, shared, or understood by people who cannot read braille, “which is unacceptable in this digital age,” according to Sergio Gosalvez (pictured).

He set up a project to solve this challenge – Paige Connect – which has been declared winner of the Groundbreaker Prize for 18 to 25-year-olds. It will receive £60k funding. Gosalvez has developed an app that allows parents to read a translation of braille, helping them to support their children’s learning as they would a sighted child.

This could be life changing for the 29,000 blind pupils in the UK, two-in-three of whom are estimated to be educated in mainstream schools,” he told Positive News.

Images: Big Change

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